Peggy . . .

. . . was our housekeeper for 19 years. Since I do some of my work from my home study, I spent quite a bit if time around Peggy. Sweet girl that she is, she would often cook breakfast for me. Other times I would cook for her.

She would often come into the house and look around. She would see something new Sandy had purchased and shake her head, chuckle, and say, “Mr. M, you sure have that gal spoiled, but I know you know when to put a stop to it!”

I would chuckle and tell Sandy what Peggy had said, and smoke would come out of her ears! She really disliked her house-keeper saying such things.

One morning Peggy came to work and voiced her frustration with her 22-year-old nephew and 20-year-old son. She complained that neither one had ever had a job, never produced anything, never lifted one finger to help her or her mom around the house, and just played video games all day! She said they asked for spending money pretty often. She asked me, “Mr. M do you think it is mine and my mom’s fault those boys are like that?” I was surprised by the question, but I asked how long the guys had behaved like that. She said that her nephew had lived with them since he was age three (Peggy lived with her mom and dad), and it had always been like that.

I smiled and told her that kids learn what they live, and that of course, she and her mom had to accept responsibility as they had cleaned up after them and acted like their waitresses all of their lives.

That evening Peggy called Sandy and turned in her resignation saying that I had hurt her feelings telling her she was to blame for those two lazy, shiftless boys being free-loaders. Sandy tried to reason with Peggy and said, “Peggy, you know Johnny and I know you are fond of him, but you also know he is both honest and direct. Why on earth would you ask him a question and expect him to tell you anything except what he thought in his heart?”

I have often thought about it and chuckled . . . Peggy believed that I had pampered and spoiled (I am guilty as charged) and felt free to comment on it, but was offended when I honestly answered her question about her spoiling the boys. That was about ten years back, and Peggy has called Sandy a number of times asking for her job back but Sandy has declined. I chuckle some about that, too.

The Master cautioned us about being able to see and recognize other folk’s problems while being blinded by our own (Matthew 7). In spite of His admonition, we still do it.

I love and miss Peggy. We have had a dozen housekeepers since her, but none even got close. Did I mention that in those 19 years Peggy only missed one day of work?

Cabinet Updates . . .

A couple of years back we bought (actually Sandy bought as I looked on with an open mouth) a 45-year-old house in a terrific neighborhood in Burnet. Sandy loves the Texas Hill Country. The house had been bought new by a couple who raised their family there and then grew old there. My suspicion is that they did no maintenance beyond changing an occasional light bulb here and there over that 40 years. We literally had to tear everything out, down to the bare studs, and rebuild. We even had to have the attic insulation pulled out and hauled off. The house turned out really nice, but we spent too much money on it. One of the things that Sandy did was order the coolest, most modern kitchen cabinets and have then installed in the new kitchen.

Back home she has been comparing those cabinets to the cabinets in our 30-year old home. A couple of weeks back, we signed a contract with a local, custom-cabinet maker to come in and update those old cabinets. The guy will install “pull outs” (shelves that slide out to enable one to easily reach the contents in the back of the cabinet. It will also include some turn tables, and sleek new doors. Sandy decided to change the dark wood finish to a semi-gloss white. It has really lightened both the kitchen and the great room.


It is in full swing tonight with a push to have it all finished by Thanksgiving Day, as we have a houseful coming for lunch.

Alison . . .

Alison is my eight-year-old granddaughter. She is Abi’s big sister. I got to hang out with them last week for a few days. On Saturday morning, we went to the saltwater pool at my hotel. While we were there, Ali slipped on the wet ceramic tile and fell down. I checked her over real well and her arm, hand, and fingers all worked okay, so I thanked the Lord for His watch care.

Yesterday her mom sent me a text asking that I pray for Ali as she was being taken to Baylor Medical for X-rays, as she had been complaining about her arm and there had been some swelling. That troubled me. I never want either of those little angels to hurt.

After a bit, I got a second text announcing that the X-rays were good . . . no fracture, just a bruise. I sighed relief, and thanked the Lord once again.

I sent the girls a small flower arrangement with a card that read, “Thank you for letting me hang out with you sweet girls for a few days! I love you both! Pappy”

Ali likes to remind me that she “taught me how to be a Pappy.” I hope I am being a good student.

The Crocodile Hunter . . .

I just saw an article declaring that November 15th is Steve Irwin Day. I really liked that colorful character. I enjoyed his sense of humor. You might ask, “Who was Steve Irwin?”

Steve Irwin was famously known as “The Crocodile Hunter” and was a wildlife expert from Essendon, Australia. He had his own television show on Animal Planet where he traveled the world to research various animals. He died in a tragic accident with a Stingray on September 4, 2006, at the age of 44.

I loved to watch his program. The dude was fearless and did the craziest stuff. I recall my pal, Walter, and me aboard Aftermath one afternoon watching him as he traveled to deep South America in search of giant eels. He had scaled a steep rocky cliff above a body of water. As he looked down, he spied one of the eels slink into the water. The Crocodile Hunter did not hesitate for a second, he ran across the ledge, released a war whoop and leaped into the air. He dove into the water and in a couple of minutes wrestled the giant eel to the surface and drug it in the bank! Walter and I were howling and laughing. Walter declared, “That dude is nuts”!

One of my favorite episodes was of him traveling across Africa in an old-style army truck with like 4-axels on the rear. As he rumbled down the dirt trail, he came upon a very poisonous snake crossing the trail. He brought the truck to a sliding stop, leaped out, and ran back to where the snake lay, pausing along the way to collect a branch from a small tree. He slid down in a prostrate position in from the reptile and commenced to whack the thing with the branch. Of course, the snake coiled up and hissed in anger. The Crocodile Hunter chuckled and declared in his brogue, “Well, he is certainly grumpy today.”

He was always eating some bug or plant and describing the nutritional value for a survivor, lost in the wild.
I miss his program. I feel sorry for his wife and kids. What a tragedy for them.


Chained . . . Part II

The Scriptures are replete with declarations which describe mankind’s fallen status and his dire need for redemption, forgiveness, grace, and mercy; and thus, regeneration. Jesus, in John 3, told a man named Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” What did Jesus mean by “being born again”? That is a great question. God created man as a tricodamus being, having a body, soul, and Spirit; yet, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden they died spiritually and were left with only a body and soul . . . thus estranged from the Creator. Jesus’ declared purpose for having come was to give His life as a ransom for lost humanity. He made it abundantly clear that His sacrifice was for everyone; yet, to appropriate the new birth (forgiveness, redemption, and regeneration) each person had to make it a personal event between him and Jesus (Romans 10:9-10). Once that is accomplished, something amazing occurs; Christ comes into the confessing sinner’s heart, and indwells the person with His Spirit . . . thus, making the sinner complete with all three parts. Paul describes it in II Corinthians as, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things become new.” The great truth of Paul’s declaration is that the individual’s status has forever been changed before God! Paul’s point is that those who are “in Christ” have a new identity . . . that being that they are “in Christ” and “Christ us in them.” In Luke 14:8, Jesus said He came to set the captive free, and in John 8:36, He declared that anyone He set free was free, indeed!

In John 14, Jesus and His disciples gather in the upper room (the upstairs section of a friend’s two-story house). The declared purpose of the evening was to celebrated and observe the Jewish holy day known as the Passover. During the course of the evening, Jesus informed them that the time for His ultimate sacrifice was near. It was a time of confusion and sorrow for the disciples, as they were locked into a theology that reasoned good things come to good people while bad things come upon bad people . . . each being a reflection of the individual’s standing with God. As the observation came to an end, Jesus led the disciples toward the Garden. As they walked along in the early evening, one of the men looked back toward the temple and saw the moonlight reflecting off of the golden vine woven into the temple gate. He commented to Jesus how attractive it was. As Jesus looked back at the gate, he said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” Jesus’ statement was confusing to these men who had always been taught that the vine represented the nation Israel in the world system. What Jesus was saying to them was that a very big change was about to occur . . . up to that moment they, along with the other Jews, got their identity from Israel, but that was about to change . . . going forward they would have to draw their identity from Him, as the Redeemer.

Therefore, we, too get our identity from Christ. In Galatians 2:20, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

So, if I have been redeemed by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, if I have been forgiven of sin, indwelled by the Spirit of Christ, and provided a complete new identity, why do I continue to struggle with life? I think the simple explanation is that I, along with most Believers, allow the enemy to confuse us with his smoke-and-mirrors. We find ourselves living in a performance-based faith that says, “I don’t smoke, drink, cuss, cheat, steal, or gossip, so I am doing pretty well.” But that is not true faith. True faith is a relationship . . . much greater than any list of dos and don’ts.

As we perform an identity-check, we might discover that in spite of our new identity we have permitted the enemy to chain us in any number of ways. Here are a few examples:

Chained mentally . . . where we are held back by a mindset that argues that we are not good enough, that we are not smart enough, strong enough, gifted enough, and the list of insecurities can go on and on.

Chained emotionally . . . where we are bound by our fears, apprehensions, chained to the past, things others have said to us, or about us.

Chained relationally . . . where we might be chained by a relationship with a family member, spouse, neighbor, co-worker, an enemy, a fellow Church member. We can be seriously held back in our journey if we begin to allow these relationships to identify us and speak to us about who we are.

Chained attitudinally . . . where we might be chained by greed, envy, jealousy, anger, conceit, pride, and other such destructive mindsets.

Chained by the enemy’s deceit and his ability to confuse us about our true identity. If he is able to keep us off-center, he can stunt our development and prevent our ability to serve the Kingdom. A couple of brief examples to illustrate the point:

1. We might invite someone into our home with the greeting, “Make yourself at home,” but we don’t really mean it. If the guest takes control of the remote control and begins surfing channels, we grow disturbed. It would really get bad if the guest started rummaging through the drawers in the kitchen. What our invitation really meant was, “Make yourself at home in this one chair, in this one room, and don’t move until I get back!” The sad truth is we tend to do that very thing to Jesus.

2. One’s relationship with Jesus is closely akin to a marriage relationship. The hard truth about marriage is that it does not work for two single people simply living in the same dwelling. A marriage having two ambitions, two agendas, and two sets of priorities just does not work. To make the marriage work, the couple must stop the “me thinking” and adopt a “we thinking.” The same must happen in a Believer’s mindset with Jesus.

It Seems to Me . . . that the enemy of our souls never stops his efforts to create confusion. One of his most effective tools is identity confusion. Note that it is not identity theft . . . because our identity is safeguarded by Jesus himself, but the tragedy results in our confusion . . . failing to understand who we are and then living in that understanding. The understanding that cries out, “my struggles do not define me, and I refuse to allow them to confine me!”



Chained . . .

The news is filled with reports of crowds taking to the streets in larger cities protesting the election results. There has been some debate in social media venues concerning these protests. Of course, there have been certain harsh comments about both the protests and the protesters. I offered one comment, that being: “Americans have the right to protest . . . it is a liberty afforded to us by our Constitution.”

However, as the lenses of the reporter’s camera have zoomed in on the protesters, I have come to realize that these protesters are very young . . . many of them too young to even vote in an election. Pictures of nearby buses used to transport the protesters have caused me rethink what is taking place. The truth is that kids this young simply do not plan and organize events, nor do they charter buses . . . those things are done for them by others. This realization has caused me to come to believe that this is not a Constitutional protest at all! I fear that it is more of a product of consciousness engineering. Let me explain:

Have you ever been to the circus and seen how the elephants are kept in place? Amazingly, a 14,000-lb elephant, possessing brute strength, is easily held at bay by a small stake in the ground and a small rope or chain around its leg. How on earth is that possible? It is a process that begins early in an elephant’s life . . . when he is a 200-lb infant, as he is first learning to move around. The keepers tether him in this manner . . . and lacking the strength to pull the stake free, he is conditioned to accept the situation. Perhaps, he even injured himself early on in his efforts to break free and that experience is indelibly logged into his memory bank. Over time, as he grows larger and stronger, it simply never occurs to him to impose his strength and will and break free . . . the sad truth is that he is conditioned to forget his identity, ability, capacity, and potential. The exact thing can also happen with us as humans.

We have discovered in this age of technology that one’s identity has great commercial value . . . demonstrated by both “identity theft” . . . and advertising campaigns directed at various market-share groups.

The circus owner has stolen the elephant’s own appreciation for his identity, capacity, and ability by conditioning his mind to accept being controlled. All of this was done to the poor elephant for our entertainment . . . and the owner’s profit.

In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul warns us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”

Here is what we need to know: the culture of this present age has conditioned this group of younger folks to believe that homosexuality, same-sex marriages, abortion-on-demand, transgender public restrooms, free education, success without sacrifice, and glory without honor are all the accepted norm, and anyone/anything they feel presents a threat or resistance to those things is inherently evil. Their chants are that they are opposed to and fearful of a system that goes back 50 years, fully convinced that societal standards that frown on sexual deviation from Biblical standards is an evil thing. You disagree? That is ok, but I would remind you that it has long been said that “a young person who is not liberal doesn’t have a heart, and an older person who is not conservative does not have a brain.” I fear the social engineering in this era has been to tap into that truth and incited these kids and antagonize the resistance against authority that is normal in that phase of human development. I fear this influence/programming and control is closely akin to what Adolph Hitler did leading up to WWII.

Just where did these confused kids ever get such a silly notion? From the same place where we got leadership in the likes of a Muslim-sympathizing President, and corrupt, amoral folks like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Harry Reed, and Nancy Peloski.

But what else could we expect from a liberal educational system that denies God and has now taught a generation of Americans that they came from bugs, have ancestors who swung by their tails, and that they simply cannot know where they are going when they die.

Chained . . . to foolish notions? It Seems to Me . . . that they are, indeed chained, and they have no clue that: freedom is not free . . . it is they, themselves, who are dead wrong . . . and America was made great by people who would shudder at the very things they are embracing.

The tragedy is there are many citizens today who are in chains . . . of confusion, ignorance, immorality, sin, foolishness, debauchery, and denial of a proper understanding of U.S. History.

Your thoughts? Feel free to straighten me out as you deem appropriate.

Editor’s Memo: This is part One of a two-part blog post. Part two will address how this “being chained” also happens in the Christian life.

Crime and Corruption . . .

Trouble in a nation’s soul . . . and our nation’s soul is terribly troubled tonight.

The USA has a rich, glorious, proud, and noble history of which we can be proud, but we are totally in the dark about our future as we approach the election on Tuesday. The contest for the Oval Office is between a flamboyant, brash, and compulsive billionaire as the Republican Nominee (DJT) . . . and a morally bankrupt, totally dishonest, former First Lady as the Democratic Nominee (HRC).

DJT is controversial and tends to come across as being rude and arrogant. He has a history of being vulgar and crude on several levels. He seems to go too far on pretty much every front. In spite of all of that, he has a distinguished track record as a successful businessman. He has a terrific family. His children are young adults . . . each one bright, attractive, sophisticated, educated, cultured, and articulate . . . all quite impressive.

HRC, on the other hand, has been under some form of investigation for most of her political life . . . beginning with being fired for being dishonest and corrupt as a young attorney working as an appointee during the Watergate scandal. She has also been disbarred as an attorney. She has been surrounded by scandal after scandal for 30 years and is currently under investigation by the FBI and Congress for a host of reasons ranging from treason, perjury, taking bribes as a high government official, violations of tax laws, and on and on. She openly promotes abortion on demand and even late-term abortion.

The entire political system leaves the impression of being corrupt and controlled by career politicians whose single greatest concern is their own reelection. They hold office, draw huge salaries and totally disregard those who they are supposed to represent. The current Administration is saturated with dishonesty and corruption. Her husband, while President, embarrassed the nation with his sexual immorality with a young 19-year-old intern in the Oval Office. He was indicted by Congress for perjury, but his Democratic colleagues came to his rescue . . . clearly revealing that they were without any boundaries . . . only ambition.

As each of the Nominees have crisscrosses the nation holding political rallies, DJT has attracted massive crowds of which thousands of attendees have been turned away by local officials. Reports are that the numbers being turned away are much larger than those attending rallies for HRC. Reports are that there is a ground-swell of those angry over the corruption and dishonesty . . . yet the pollsters still predict a slight victory for her.

DJT has largely funded his own campaign and crossed the nation in his own jet, while HRC has taken money from an unnumbered amount of special interest groups; moreover, the current President and his wife have traveled extensively on Air Force One to campaign for her . . . just another example of corruption.

Will we as a people revolt against the crime and corruption, or will we continue down that pathway? Many argue that the upcoming election is really about the soul of the Nation.

I predict a landslide victory for Trump . . . I don’t see that as being a vote of the people for Trump inasmuch as it is a vote against her and her corruption!



Family Struggles . . .

Yesterday I met a new guy at the Rockport pool. I introduced myself and welcomed him to the pool . . . I wanted to encourage him as it was obvious that he really needed to get on an exercise program. I had been in the pool a long while before he arrived. After I got out and took a seat to sit and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes. He also got out and came and sat nearby . . . he was clearly lonesome. Thinking he was a Winter Texan, I asked where he was from? He said he had moved here from East Texas a few months back . . . and as it turns out he just lives a couple of blocks from me. As we talked, he told me that he was a retired Navy Chief (retired in 1973), and that he had been in the Refrigeration business after that. We visited some about what EPA has done to that business through this new Green Energy push. Just a couple of old Southern boys griping about our liberal government.

As I prepared to leave, I asked him if he had located a Church yet. He said that he had not, so I invited him to visit my Sunday school class. He smiled and said that he would certainly visit but he couldn’t promise that his wife would. He then, quite sadly, told me that after 53 years of marriage, two daughters, and a half dozen grandchildren, his wife had “blown up and moved out.” He went on to explain that one of his daughters lives just up the street from him and his wife had gone there. He told me that he had called his daughter’s house that morning to ask him wife to come home, but his daughter said her mom refused to even speak to him. I realized my new acquaintance really needed a friend, so I sat back down and let him talk. He was clearly distraught over the situation, and seemed to be uncertain how to proceed.

I politely told him that sometimes the differences between men and women looms large, but if properly dealt with those differences can be overcome. I also told him that communication is very important . . . because it is when folks quit talking that the problem grows serious. He said that it had reached that point with her and cited his morning’s phone call as evidence. I chuckled and said that he should still have a few arrows in his quiver . . . and I was pretty sure that all that phone call proved was that she was simply unwilling at the moment to communicate in the same language that had been used to bring them to this sad place. He was confused and asked how else he could communicate with her? I gave him directions to a flower shop and suggested that he might sent her a pretty bouquet of flowers along with a card declaring his undying love, apologizing, and saying he missed her. I chuckled and, “Dude, you are gonna have to knock it off with that Navy Chief talk and learn to use the language of love . . . that is most likely what her heart needs and wants.”

I asked him if he knew what made a partnership work and what made a romance work. He said that he didn’t, so I told him. I told him that he needs to know that a marriage is a partnership, but it must also be a romance, too. I explained that each party in a partnership gives up something in order for the other party to also be in the partnership. Everything must be fair and equal because if one party ever begins to feel that he is giving up too much as compared to what he is receiving, it tends to serve as fuel for the enemy to cause havoc. I then explained romance to this 85-year-old fellow. I said, “to make a romance work, you must learn what she needs, and then give that to her as often as she needs it . . . And in whatever amount she needs . . . and you have to give it to her freely.” I used the illustration of a woman who needs to be warmly embraced but married to a reclusive guy who used her need for his own advantage like, “Hey, bring me a beer and I will give you a hug!” I asked him how he thought that made the wife feel. He said it likely made her feel used.

I asked him if his wife complained about him not helping out around the house and not doing stuff she wanted to do. Of course he said she did. After some discussion he agreed that he had likely made her feel more like a housekeeper than a wife. I think he made a break through . . . now he just has to find a way to help her understand that.

I expect an invitation to dinner pretty soon . . . I am thinking I just might be meeting a thankful lady in the near future.

It all reminded me of the story of the older man calling his son to announce a certain divorce about to take place. Here it is:
An old man in Phoenix calls his son in New York and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing, forty-five years of misery is enough.” “Pop, what are you talking about?” the son screams. “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” the old man said. “We’re sick and tired of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.” He hangs up. Franticly, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “There’s no way they’re getting a divorce,” she shouts. “I’ll take care of this.” She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at the old man, “You are NOT getting divorced! Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” And she hangs up. The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife, smiling. “Great,” he says, “they’re coming home for Christmas AND paying their own way!!”

Abi . . .

Abi and I have a morning tradition developing. When she is visiting she comes downstairs early and hangs out with me. She and I are the early risers, so this is a special time together. We begin by her climbing up in my lap and cuddling and us saying sweet stuff to one another. An example of our early conversation:

Abi: Pappy, I love you in the whole world and all ‘Merica!
Me: Why thank you, Abi!
Abi: Where’s my Nana?
Me: She has gone to work.
Abi: Where does she work?
Me: She is a school teacher.
Abi: I am home-schooled. Where is Nana’s school?
Me: Remember we took her coffee yesterday?
Abi: Oh yeah

After a while the conversation is:

Abi: Pappy, can I play with your iPad?
Me: Of course.

The little imp is a 34-pound whiz on electronic games! It blows me away how proficient she actually is . . . she is fearless and there is no hesitation. I watch her in total amazement . . . I am pretty certain that she is ambidextrous . . . as she moves from hand to hand without any sign that she is less efficient with one hand. She uses a pencil and crayon with about the same skill with each hand.

This morning she played the game Temple Run which I suspect is a knock-off of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The game is well beyond the skill level of a typical 4-year-old, but don’t tell Abi that . . . as she is quite good at running the obstacle course. After she played awhile this morning, she challenged me to a tournament. I reluctantly accepted her challenge. After I had a couple of turns, she looked at me with some concern and said, “Pappy, I need to teach you how to play. Watch me.” And with that she took the iPad back and hit the Play Again icon and started another run. As she made each move she offered helpful hints. After a couple of minutes she scolded me saying, “Pappy, you are not paying attention! Think about what I am doing here!” I told her that I would try to be more focused. In a moment, she fell off a cliff and raised her sweet little face to check my reaction to her error. As I smiled down at her, she in utter disgust exclaimed, “Pappy, you aren’t even wearing your glasses!”

I belly laughed!

Did I mention that she is a little bossy?


I Think We are Back . . .

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Eagles in overtime Sunday night! It was a difficult challenge . . . and the Cowboys had to overcome a 10-point deficit after a rough start. The Eagles just have a history of finding any weakness in the Cowboy’s game and exploiting that weakness. Sunday evening’s contest showed that we still have some work to do on defense, but when it really counted, the guys got it done. The offense, however, is really clicking! Ezekiel Elliot is the best running back I can remember the Cowboys ever having.

The Cowboys are solidly in first place in the NFC-East, with NY Giants and the Eagles being 4 and 3, and the Redskins being 4, 3, and 1. The last time the Cowboys were this place was the early 1980s.

Cowboy fans are happy again . . . after a long dry spell. It is looking more and more like we are back. In fact, I am actually beginning to think that we just might get to the Super Bowl . . . which will be played in Houston this season. If we do make it, then I intend to take Chris, Ryan, and Billy!

Blue skies and sunshine in Texas . . . the Cowboys are finally winning again. I am confident it will continue if Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett don’t upset the apple cart by trying to re-insert Tony Romo back in as quarterback. Time will tell . . . Jerry Jones does have a history of doing some goofy stuff and hurting the team (most specifically being a blowhard and running Jimmy Johnson off in the height of the glory years).

And there is whipped creme and a cherry on top of that . . . the San Antonio Spurs are off to a great star at 4 and 0.